As part of its restructuring, Thai Airways has put a bunch of its aircraft up for sale. On the market are a total of 34 aircraft, 32 of which are widebodies. Included in the sale is its entire remaining fleet of Boeing 747s, as well 12 of its older 777s.
THAI is selling its old aircraft
It’s no secret that Thai Airways has been having a tough time of late. With Thailand’s borders largely still closed, the airline has been forced to suspend normal operations for a prolonged period of time. In the first half of the year, the airline lost $900m and has been undergoing a bankruptcy reorganization since May.
Now, the shape of that restructuring is beginning to become clear. The Thai carrier is planning to sell a total of 34 aircraft, including its fleet of Boeing 747s. Joining the Queens on the secondhand market will be Boeing 777s and Airbus A340s, as well as a couple of 737-400s and a lone A300.
Not many are in the market for additional, second-hand aircraft right now, but if you happen to be, the bidding process appears to be pretty open. According to the sales website, the airline says,
“Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (“THAI”) would like to cordially to invite you to participate in the Bidding Process for the sale of THAI’s Used Aircraft with the registrations and the information below … All Aircraft are offered for sale on an “As-Is, Where-Is” condition.”
They are all available for delivery in the first half of 2021, but some of these planes will need serious overhauls if they plan to fly them to their new owner. For example, the A300 has been stored in Bangkok since 2013, while the two 737-400s have been stored since 2017 and 2018. None of the A340s have flown since at least 2015.
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Queens for sale
The Boeing 747s are likely to struggle to find a new home, at least with a passenger airline. The majority of airlines are phasing out the old quadjets in favor of newer, more efficient twins. There’s a possibility a cargo airline could be interested in taking them up, although the cost of reconfiguration and conversion might put them off.
If a passenger airline does take some or all of the Queens, they’ll be getting an aircraft with a pretty neat fit-out. All THAI’s 747s come with a premium heavy configuration, with either nine or 10 first class seats up front. While a bit dated by today’s standards, the nine-seat cabin, in particular, gets some good reviews from passengers.
Of course, if a twinjet is what you’re after, the airline has plenty of 777s for sale too. It is offering a total of six 777-300 for sale, manufactured from between 1998 and 2000, as well as six further 777-200, dated from 1996 to 1998. These don’t have first but could be a bargain for an airline looking to get started in the widebody market.
What will THAI’s fleet look like now?
According to Planespotters.net, although THAI’s fleet still, in theory, numbers 75, only eight aircraft are currently in use. These include three 777s, three A350-900, and two A330-300. No narrowbody aircraft remain in the fleet.
Coming out of this sale, it seems THAI will be relying on its young fleet of 12 A350s for its long-haul operations. These will be complemented by its 14 younger 777-300s, all under 10 years of age, as well as its eight Dreamliners and 15 A330s. That puts the total fleet size at 49, a far cry from the 80 it went into the crisis with.
But there’s one aircraft type whose fate still hangs in the balance – the Airbus A380s. THAI operates six A380s, all of which are stored right now. None of them are older than 8.7 years, with the youngest just 7.5 years old.
Although the trend is to phase out quads in favor of more efficient alternatives, it’s going to be painful for the airline to contemplate getting rid of these young superjumbos. However, there’s still a long way to go before it’s out of the crisis, so we could see a decision on that in the coming months.